family law

The decision to separate or divorce can be a difficult one. That is why Mazzeo Law is committed to helping our clients navigate the legal system to help them meet there individual goals and objectives within the confines of the law. We here at Mazzeo Law are prepared to help our clients through meaningful negotiation or at court, as needed.

 

Family Law is governed by carefully crafted Federal and Provincial legislation, in respect of married persons, cohabiting couples and children. Our legislation outlines the rights and obligations of all parties upon the termination of marriages, or relationships resembling marriages, and apply equally to same sex or opposite sex couples.

 

Our knowledge and experience helps us assist our clients dealing with all of these issues and help them navigate through these complex legal system and procedures to provide them with the closure they need in order to move forward and move on with their lives.

 

In order to assist you we’ve addressed some of the issues that are most concerning to our clients below and provided information regarding that issue. We invite you to take a closer look at each section and also review our FAQ and RESOURCES sections as well. If you still have questions or would like further assistance, we invite you to contact us directly or fill out a request to be contacted using our consultation form.

CHILD CUSTODY & ACCESS

Separation and divorce can be very difficult for children. Our experience in family law has taught us that reducing the amount of conflict that is experienced by the children can eliminate these negative impacts. The team at Mazzeo Law strive to think outside of the box in crafting and advocating for residency schedules designed to reduce conflict and ensure the child is afforded a healthy relationship with each party. Involve us early in your separation or divorce matters so that you know your legal rights and obligations before making any major decisions.

 

Custody refers to the right and responsibility of a parent to make major decisions for his or her child. The power to make major decisions includes decisions concerning education, religion and certain health care matters.

 

Sole Custody refers to the exclusive right and responsibility of one parent to make all major decisions and day-to-day decisions for his or her child.

 

Joint Custody refers to the right and responsibility of each parent to make major decisions for his or her child. While joint custody parenting arrangements can vary widely, the residency of the child will dictate which parent has the right and responsibility to make day-to-day decisions.

 

Access refers to the time that a parent without custody has with his or her child. Access includes the right to make inquiries about the child and to be given information about the child’s health, education, and welfare. A non-custodial is entitled to access.

CHILD SUPPORT

The obligation to pay child support to a dependent child is mandatory in Ontario. At Mazzeo Law our team of lawyers aim to protect this obligation in order to ensure a secure future for your child. Whether by negotiation, mediation, arbitration or by court order, Mazzeo Law is determined to provide clients with a thorough understanding of their child’s right to child support.

 

In Ontario, there are federal and provincial Child Support Guidelines, which outline the amount of child support payable, based on the number of children and the income of the paying parent. While the courts do have the power to deviate from the Child Support Guidelines in specific circumstances. At Mazzeo Law, we work hard to achieve the best possible outcome for your child.

SPOUSAL SUPPORT

The purpose of spousal support is to ensure that a spouse does not suffer any undue hardship or a marked change is lifestyle as a result of a separation or divorce. Unlike child support, there are no federal and provincial guidelines. However, there are Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (typically referred to as ‘SSAG’), which are considered by any court tasked with determining a spouse’s eligibility for spousal support.

 

In Ontario, courts consider a multitude of factors when determining a spouse’s eligibility for spousal support, including, (a) the length of the marriage; (b) the age and health of the spousal support claimant at the time of separation; (c) lost educational and career opportunities as a result of the marriage; (d) the probability of the spousal support claimant becoming self-sufficient in the future.

 

Whether by negotiation, mediation, arbitration or by court order, Mazzeo Law is determined to provide clients with a thorough understanding of their eligibility for spousal support.

PROPERTY DIVISION

Upon separation, each spouse’s contribution to the growth of assets is recognized. In general, the value of all property owned by spouses on the date of separation – after deducting the value of each spouses assets on the date of marriage – must be divided equally between the spouses. The value of each spouses assets on the date of separation is referred to as their respective Net Family Property (NFP).

 

There are various categories of assets that are excluded in calculating your NFP, which are referred to as excluded property, such as gifts or inheritances received during the marriage by someone other than a spouse, provided that they were not used towards the matrimonial home.

 

These property division laws and equalization payment only applies to married spouses. If you are in a common law relationship, you may be entitled to payment from your partner for a direct or indirect contribution to a property that he or she owns. This sort of entitlement is referred to as trust claims.

PENSIONS

Legislative changes to both the Family Law Act and the Pension Benefits Act were put in place January 1, 2012. These changes make it easier for couples to value and divide their pension plan earnings in accordance with Ontario legislation at the time of divorce.

 

Pension plan administrator has now been assigned the role of valuing the pension plan so an actuary is no longer needed. Spousal settlement payment amounts based on the value of one’s pension plan can now be made in full or in part from the pension plan itself.

 

The new legislation regarding pension plans still only apply to married spouses in Ontario, where one of the spouses is a member of an Ontario pensions plan, if they were separated:

 

  • on or after January 1, 2012; or
  • before January 1, 2012, if the parties haven’t resolved their property settlement by then.

 

The new rules also apply to unmarried spouses if they agree to share the value of the pension plan following separation.

 

More information on the recent changes and the required forms that must be submitted to the pension plan in order to obtain the pension valuation can be found on the Financial Services Commission of Ontario website.

MATRIMONIAL HOMES

They say “home is where the heart is” and for many of us this is especially true when it comes to our home and the family we live with in it. It’s where we spend the majority of our spare time when we aren’t working, and often it is our motivation to work as hard as we do. If you own a home it is likely the most valuable asset you own and largest investment of both time and money. It’s where we also keep our even more valuable assets like our loved ones we call family.

 

If married, both spouses have equal right to reside in the matrimonial home unless the court rules that one must move out. In saying this, neither party can rent it, sublet it, sell it or get a loan or mortgage against it without the other party’s permission. This also applies even if the lease is in only one party’s name or if only one party owns the home.

 

When a couple separates, both may want to continue to live in the matrimonial home. However, in this situation if no agreement can be reached in terms of who should stay and who should go then we can help determine the next appropriate course of action for you to take. In the event a mutual agreement cannot be reached by by both parties through mediation or arbitration, then the case will have to be brought to court where a judge will decide. If the judge orders for exclusive possession to one spouse it means that only that spouse is able to use it, and not the other. Now, another consideration to be made is whether or not either party is able to afford to stay in the home on their own after the separation.

 

If there are children involved, the person awarded custody of the children is also most often the one ordered to stay in the home with the children. Protecting the children by preserving the familiarity of their surroundings and neighbourhood helps to ensure they adjust to their new family situation as best as possible. The children’s safety as well as mental and emotional well being is of the utmost importance to the courts and the legislation that protects their rights and interests.

SEPARATION & DIVORCE

Separation or divorce affects all aspects of your life. It is Mazzeo Law’s goal to help you resolve all matters in connection with your separation or divorce as promptly and as cost effective as possible.

 

A separation or divorce does not require litigation. Mazzeo Law is committed to exploring all paths to resolution, including, negotiation, mediation or arbitration.

DOMESTIC CONTRACTS

Relationship contracts refer to “prenuptial agreements”, “cohabitation agreements”, “domestic contracts” or “marriage contracts”. Relationship agreements are contracts between two partners, which limit the rights and obligations either partner would be entitled to but for the relationship agreement. A relationship agreement cannot limit child support or a spouse’s rights in connection with a matrimonial home.

 

Mazzeo Law is experienced in structuring, designing, drafting and executing relationship contracts.